Take care as drones take flight

By 2020, it is expected that the commercial drone industry will be worth more than US$10.8 billion, according to Statistica. It clearly has a bright future as a medium, and its uses are still coming to light.

One high profile potential drone application is the delivery of goods — Amazon has talked about this for some time. A couple of years ago the notion of having a pizza delivered by drone seemed outrageous, but today, it’s not quite so far-fetched. Aside from the personal services, consider some of the other big picture uses. They can be used to manage livestock and agricultural land on a vast scale without the need to travel out there; they can be used to inspect architectural developments; and emergency services can use them in disaster situations to give them an eagle eye view of the damage.

Drones have also evolved rapidly, from simple quadcopters made of Styrofoam with four electric motors to massive, six-engine units that can lift a full DSLR camera, with heavy lenses, and zip through the air.

Their ascent in popularity has also forced legislation to adapt, and quickly.

Drones are wonderful tools, but their use presents clear challenges in areas like personal safety, and privacy. Drone operators who are flying for commercial gain need a remote pilot licence from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), and must work for a business that is certified to fly. The likelihood is that the drone will weigh more than 2kg (particularly if a DSLR camera is attached), which presents a real risk of harm to an individual if an accident occurs. If you want to be a part of forming the next generation of drone laws in Australia, the CASA opened a public consultation for feedback on proposed new laws, which runs until November 18, 2018. Details at consultation.casa.gov.au

For drones under 2kg, there are far fewer protections for individuals, particularly from other members of the public.

A recent report from Choice gathered the following regarding privacy, and whether someone can film another person without their permission:

“The legal view on this varies depending on who you talk to. Whatever the case, there is currently no specific piece of legislation that protects the privacy of individuals against recreational drones.”


Protecting your drone, and yourself

Whether or not you need specific insurance for your drone depends on its use. If it’s a small recreational drone, you may be covered in any existing home and contents policy. If you move up the scale though and have a commercial drone, or a particularly expensive personal drone, then you may want to consider a more comprehensive insurance approach.

The reasons for an issue to emerge when flying a drone aren’t limited to human error. Most of the reasons for accidents involving a drone are down to the drone losing power mid-flight, the operator losing signal control of the drone, or a technical malfunction with the device itself. Given that accidents may be out of the hands of the operator, then insurance becomes a must if any risk exists that someone may be hurt.

It may be that a drone hits a toddler in your area as it crashes to earth, or it may end up in a power line and disrupt electricity supply to your neighbourhood. Clear insurance cover can help in most cases.

For commercial piloting, insurance will be obligatory.

Join Austbrokers

Become an Austbrokers adviser today!

Get in touch